When Nyree Stevens-Credle woke up in a New York hospital two days after being shot in the neck on Christmas Day, she had no idea she was paralyzed from the neck down.
She knew she had been shot in the neck or the head.
She could remember slamming onto the curb as she tried to run after leaving a Christmas party, and seeing someone pull a gun on the street.
But when she woke, dazed, numb and unable to move, her doctors said it was just the painkillers weighing her down.
Days later, her family broke the news: she wouldn’t walk again.
Nyree felt like she was melting into the bed, more aware than ever of the numbness of her limbs. Her dreams of trying out modeling, maybe traveling, and being independent seemed to be blown.
Nyree Stevens-Credle was 19 when she was shot in the neck outside party in New York in 2009
She had no idea that, over the next 10 years, she would go skiing, parasailing and skydiving, and build a connection with other people who’ve had to piece their lives back together, too
Nyree, now 28, was 19 when the stray bullet hit her that night in 2009, severing C3 and C4 of her spinal cord.
She and her friends had gone to a club night after spending the day with their families, and someone in her group started squaring up with someone else.
It wasn’t clear what they were arguing about but they managed to break it up.
Later, as they left, they saw the person following their group.
To Nyree’s shock, her friend pulled out a gun in defense.
Everyone scarpered, running as fast and far as they could.
But as Nyree stepped up onto the curb, a bullet hit her neck.
She remembers falling, and people rushing around her.
‘As I tried to step onto the curb I just fell to the ground. I knew something was not right because my body went numb,’ Nyree said.
‘All I remember is that I was praying to God saying, “please don’t let me take my last breath here”.’
‘At first I thought I got shot in the head, that’s how hard I hit my head on the curb. All I was trying to do was get a cab and go home because I had to work the next day.’
When she woke up two days later, she had tubes down her throat, with a tracheostomy in her neck, and was in massive pain. She couldn’t move, couldn’t speak, couldn’t eat or drink anything for days.
‘It was like torture,’ Nyree remembers.
When Nyree Stevens-Credle woke up in a New York hospital two days after being shot in the neck on Christmas Day, she had no idea she was paralyzed from the neck down. Doctors said it was the painkillers
At first, Nyree says, her dreams of trying out modeling, traveling, and being independent seemed to be blown. Now, Nyree is still able to go out and about and she makes the most of that
‘Everyone had to read my lips, it was such a difficult time for me.’
But perhaps the most challenging moments were when she was not trying to communicate or ingest liquid meals.
The moments spent alone, in silence, with no TV and nothing to do, were the times she slipped into terrifying spirals of anxiety, repeatedly running through all the things she would never be able to do.
‘It affected me not only mentally, but physically and emotionally,’ Nyree said.
‘I had gone from not depending on anyone to needing people to help me with absolutely everything and it really took its toll on me.’
She couldn’t imagine how she would feel fulfillment in a life tied to a wheelchair.
She had no idea that, over the next 10 years, she would go skiing, parasailing and skydiving, and build a connection with other people who’ve had to piece their lives back together, too.
She now works with people recently disabled by injury to help them work through the emotional agony, and experience things that they wouldn’t think possible.
Nyree is now a mentor to other newly disabled people to show them that they can still have a life
She was in hospital from December 26, 2009, to January 8, 2010, then spent three months in a rehabilitation center before she could head home. The person who shot her spent eight years in prison, and was released recently.
‘Since I have been with my disability, I’ve learnt so much about many other disabilities and I see many people who are in a worse situation than me,’ Nyree said.
‘I’m still able to voice my opinions and tell people the things I might need with help.
‘I’m able to still go outside and enjoy life. Some people are less fortunate, so this helps me accept my injury.
‘It’s so important to be there for others and to have them share their stories. I just try to show them that this is not the end, just a new beginning to a new life.
‘I hope to become a role model and influence to many people with disabilities, I would love to show them that this is not the end you can still live a normal life, just a different type of normal. I would like to become an advocate for people with disabilities.
‘If you can’t stand up stand out. Always keep hope and faith, never give up on yourself.
‘Remember God only gives his toughest battles to his toughest soldiers.’